Pointe shoes allow a ballet dancer to gracefully spin, glide and dance on the tips of her toes, providing the foot with the support it needs to dance en pointe. But how do they work, and how are ballet pointe shoes made?
From types of ballet pointe shoe pastes to how to modify your TMT pointe shoe box, here’s everything you need to know about making pointe shoes.
How Are Ballet Pointe Shoes Made?
Pointe shoes are made up of several materials. Here is a step-by-step description of each individual element:
- The outside of a pointe shoe is made from satin.
- The pointe shoe toe block at the tip of the shoe is a firm box that is made up of layers of fabric, cardboard and paper. These are packed together densely and hardened by pointe shoe pastes.
- The shank is made from layers of cardboard.
- The sole of a pointe shoe is typically made from a thin piece of leather.
When Is Ballet Pointe Shoe Paste Used
Pointe shoe pastes are a specially formulated glue-like substance, which is used when making pointe shoes. Pointe shoe pastes are used in both the process of hardening the toe block/box and attaching the Insole to the inside of the pointe shoe.
BLOCH uses three different paste formulas to give you a variety of options when it comes to choosing the pointe shoe best suited to your foot.
Pointe Shoe Paste Types
A Paste is the standard paste that BLOCH uses. It is a firm, hard paste and was initially formulated to stand up to climate conditions of heat and humidity.
BLOCH Pointe Shoes made with A Paste: Aspriation, Axi Stretch, Balance European, Balance Lisse, Elegance, Eurostretch, Grace, Hannah, Heritage, Serenade, Sonata, Superlative, Suprima, Synthesis, Mirella Whisper.
B Paste was developed because dancers wanted a paste to mold faster to the shape of their foot. This paste is extremely malleable and will break down faster than A Paste.
BLOCH Pointe Shoes made with B Paste: Alpha, Amelie Soft, Amelie, Axiom, Synergy
TMT™ Paste (Thermo-Morph Technology), is a ground-breaking, patent pending heat activated paste exclusive to BLOCH, which can be molded to the shape of the foot by using direct hot air from a hair dryer. Traditionally, the process of breaking in Pointe shoes has been long and tedious. To redress this, BLOCH has developed Thermo Morph Technology (TMT)™, an advanced formula heat activated paste. TMT™ enables you to accelerate the breaking in process by molding your pointe shoes to the unique contours of your feet from the very first wear. The B-Morph Pointe Shoe, which uses TMT™ paste, is labelled ‘left’ and ‘right’. Once the TMT™ has been activated, the shoes will be molded to either the left or right foot.
BLOCH Pointe Shoes made with TMT™ paste: B-Morph
To modify your TMT Toe Box, follow steps 1-6 below.
If your TMT shank requires modification, follow steps 7-9.
Please note that TMT™ will not activate from the heat of the foot created by dancing.
MODIFYING YOUR TMT™ TOE BOX
- Hold the blow dryer 4 inches from the demi pointe area of the outsole. Apply heat for 10 seconds.
- Heat each side for 20 seconds. Heat the vamp (top of the shoe, not platform) for 20 seconds. Heat the demi pointe area of the outsole for 20 seconds. Keep the blow dryer 4 inches from the satin to avoid marks.
- While the shoe is still warm but not too hot, put the shoe on. Massage the toe area, moulding the shoe to the contours of your foot.
- Gripping the heel of the shoe, work through demi pointe three times.
- Stand flat in the shoe and massage the toe area again.
- Do three tendus. Then leave shoe in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set.
MODIFYING YOUR TMT™ SHANK
- Fold back heel and put shoe on to identify the ¾ point of the arch area. Mark this point on the insole and then the corresponding point on the outsole.
- Heat just above the mark on the outsole for 20 seconds. Heat just above the ¾ mark on the insole for 20 seconds.
- Firmly place your thumb on the ¾ mark on the outsole and bend the heel of the shoe down just above the ¾ mark. Ensure that you do not over-bend or bend below the ¾ mark. Leave shoe in the fridge for 5 minutes to set.
As you can see, each pointe shoe contains multiple unique elements to help create a fit that is just right for you. If you’re looking to get started dancing en pointe, why not check out our post on What to Expect at Your First Pointe Shoe Fitting? You can also explore our full range of pointe shoes to find your perfect pair.